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TO THE INFALLIBLE
("Ionica," 1858, p. 60)
Old angler, what device is thine To draw my pleasant friends from me?
Thou fishest with a silken line Not the coa.r.s.e nets of Galilee.
In stagnant vivaries they lie, Forgetful of their ancient haunts; And how shall he that standeth by Refrain his open mouth from taunts?
How? by remembering this, that he, Like them, in eddies whirled about, Felt less: for thus they disagree: He can, they could not, bear to doubt.
THE SWIMMER'S WISH
("Ionica," 1858, p. 81)
Fresh from the summer wave, under the beech, Looking through leaves with a far-darting eye, Tossing those river-pearled locks about, Throwing those delicate limbs straight out, Chiding the clouds as they sailed out of reach, Murmured the swimmer, I wish I could fly.
Laugh, if you like, at the bold reply, Answer disdainfully, flouting my words: How should the listener at simple sixteen Guess what a foolish old rhymer could mean Calmly predicting, "You will surely fly"-- Fish one might vie with, but how be like birds?
Sweet maiden-fancies, at present they range Close to a sister's engarlanded brows, Over the diamonds a mother will wear, In the false flowers to be shaped for her hair.-- Slow glide the hours to thee, late be the change, Long be thy rest 'neath the cool beechen boughs!
Genius and love will uplift thee: not yet, Walk through some pa.s.sionless years by my side, Chasing the silly sheep, snapping the lily stalk, Drawing my secrets forth, witching my soul with talk.
When the sap stays, and the blossom is set, Others will take the fruit, I shall have died.
("Ionica," 1858, p. 115)
Uprose the temple of my love Sculptured with many a mystic theme, All frail and fanciful above, But pillared on a deep esteem.
It might have been a simpler plan, And traced on more majestic lines; But he that built it was a man Of will unstrung, and vague designs;
Not worthy, though indeed he wrought With reverence and a meek content, To keep that presence: yet the thought Is there, in frieze and pediment.
The trophied arms and treasured gold Have pa.s.sed beneath the spoiler's hand; The shrine is bare, the altar cold, But let the outer fabric stand.
NOTRE DAME--FROM THE SOUTH-EAST
Oh lord of high compa.s.sion, strong to scorn Ephemeral monsters, who with tragic pain Purgest our trivial humours, once again Through thine own Paris have I roamed, to mourn
For freemen plagued with cant, ere we were born, For feasts of death, and hatred's harvest wain Piled high, for princes from proud mothers torn, And soft despairs hushed in the waves of Seine.
Oh Victor, oh my prophet, wilt thou chide If Gudule's pangs, and Marion's frustrate plea, And Gauvrain's promise of a heavenly France, Thy sadly worshipt creatures, almost died This evening, for that spring was on the tree, And April dared in children's eyes to dance?
IN HONOUR OF MATTHEW PRIOR
[Ill.u.s.tration: Greek Pa.s.sage-218]
I am Her mirror, framed by him Who likes and knows her. On my rim No fret, no bead, no lace.
He tells me not to mind the scorning Of every semblance of adorning, Since I receive Her face.
The following little Greek lyric occurs in a letter of December 18, 1862, to the Rev. E. D. Stone. "My lines," wrote William Johnson, "are suggested by the death of Thorwaldsen: he died at the age of seventy, imperceptibly, having fallen asleep at a concert. But when I had done them, I remembered Provost Hawtrey's last appearance in public at a music party, where he fell asleep: and so I value my lines as a bit of honour done to him, and it seems odd that I should unintentionally have caught in the second and third lines his characteristic sympathy with the young...."
NEC CITHARA CARENTEM
[Ill.u.s.tration: Greek Pa.s.sage-220]
Guide me with song, kind Muse, to death's dark shade; Keep me in sweet accord with boy and maid, Still in fresh blooms of art and truth arrayed.
Bear with old age, blithe child of memory!
Time loves the good; and youth and thou art nigh To Sophocles and Plato, till they die.
Playmate of freedom, queen of nightingales, Draw near; thy voice grows faint: my spirit fails Still with thee, whether sleep or death a.s.sails.